February 9, 2007


And the man behind the brand is...
Charles Phillips

Most businessmen believe the best way to spread the name of their products is through advertising. Charles Henry Phillips was the anti-advertiser. He believed that the products which flowed from his laboratory should gain favor and prestige through their own merit. Accordingly most of Phillips’ apothecary products disappeared. The one that did not, Milk of Magnesia, made his name famous.

Phillips came from England to engage in the retail drug business in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Pharmacists at the time were chemists who concocted their own remedies and many dreamed of inventing that one break-out product. Phillips moved to Glenbrook, Connecticut in 1849 to establish his own laboratory.

For a quarter-century Phillips built a reputation as a provider of treatments for chronic diseases and nutrient supplements with the cumbersome names as Phillips’ Palatable Cod Liver Oil Emulsion and Phillips’ Phospho-Nutritive and Phillips’ Phospo-Muriate Quinine Compound.

In 1873 Phillips received a United States patent for the invention of Milk of Magnesia. Magnesia had long been known as a laxative but it was difficult to administer in its known powder form. Phillips suspended magnesium hydroxide in water making the treatment palatable. The name was registered in the Trade Mark Journal in 1880, two years before its inventor’s death, making Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia one of America’s oldest brands.

The stomach treatment was roundly endorsed by physicians and dentists and, just as Phillips believed, the merit of Milk of Magnesia has gained it a place in American medicine cabinets for over 100 years.

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